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Conflict of Interest Concerns Dog DFL Senator Hired by Duluth College

No, it's not a misprint. It's the same guy, DFL Sen. Erik Simonson, who raised conflict of interest questions and concerns in some quarters in his last public sector job in his home base of Duluth. The state senator's latest notch on his remarkable reinvention, from retired fireman to CEO of the Duluth Public Zoo to a top level administrator in higher education now at Lake Superior College, drew criticism in the Star Tribune. As the legislative session got underway in mid-February, Sen. Erik Simonson introduced a bill to secure nearly $1 million in state infrastructure bonds for a major expansion at Lake Superior College. On...

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Finally! Bloomington Gets to Vote on Freedom to Choose Garbage Hauler

Bloomington officials have quietly acknowledged residents will finally get to vote this fall on whether they want to be able to choose their own garbage hauler, more than three years after city hall illegally prevented the issue from going on the ballot. The development puts the future of the controversial organized garbage collection system that eliminates competition between providers, as well as choice for citizens, on the line with the possibility it could be scrapped if the majority of citizens vote for the freedom to choose their own collection service. The action follows a February 12 Minnesota Supreme Court finding that...

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Smart SBA Rules and Religious Freedom

Yes, the United States has a wall separating church and state, as well we should. But it should not be as tall and thick as it’s often made out to be. Which thankfully has been understood by the Small Business Administration in publishing rules last week regarding participation in the recently adopted federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)....

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Thousands of Golfers Petition Walz for a Mulligan on Course Closures

Golfers cooped up all winter in Minnesota have a tough enough time waiting for the snow to melt before teeing it up in the already short season here. But the thought of waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to subside before unpacking their clubs has thousands of golfers putting pressure on Gov. Tim Walz to give them a mulligan. [caption id="attachment_18881" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The future of golf?[/caption] Nearly 39,000 Minnesotans have already electronically "signed" an online petition that makes the case that Walz should reconsider the closure of golf courses for the good of the state's "mental and physical well-being." Golfers would be...

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Costco Backs Out of Proposed Duluth Store Due to Cost and City Issues

The news that Costco was pulling out of a long-planned store in Duluth was disappointing enough in the midst of the economic fallout from Covid-19. But word that the sought-after retail giant backed out of moving ahead with construction due to apparent difficulties in dealing with city hall makes it that much harder for residents to stomach. Costco's site selector told the Star Tribune the deal went south “due primarily to extraordinarily high project bids which far exceeded others we’ve seen recently throughout the Midwest region.” The city evidently played a key role in crafting the so-called "project labor agreement" that sets...

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Questions for Authorities in Greater Minnesota Over Stay-at-Home Order

The clock on Governor Walz’s two-week stay-at-home order starts ticking at midnight tonight. But elected officials and law enforcement authorities in rural Minnesota say they've already been getting plenty of questions from citizens about how it will work. The issue dominated the latest virtual meeting of the Martin County Board of Commissioners covered by the Sentinel in Fairmont, including the issue of enforcement. “As far as the stay-at-home order from the governor, it’s a non-enforceable order, so if people go out to get groceries, pick up medications or go to the doctor, there’s nothing we can do with law enforcement to pull...

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Should Minnesota Ban Reusable Shopping Bags That Could Transmit the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed a flaw in the trendy plastic bag bans now in place in environmentally self-conscious states and cities. Concerns over the public health threat posed by fabric shopping bags that could transmit COVID-19 has led New Hampshire to become the first state to issue an emergency order banning the use of reusable bags temporarily in favor of disposable plastic and paper bags. The backlash over the bags did not escape the notice of Grist, an environmentalist online publication. “Our grocery store workers are on the front lines of COVID-19, working around the clock to keep New Hampshire families...

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Duluth City Council Backs Off Controversial Plastic Bag Fee with Coronavirus Concerns

It will be safer and a bit more affordable for residents of Duluth to go to the grocery store for the time being.  Under pressure, the city council yesterday rolled back a politically correct 5 cent penalty on plastic bags set to take effect at the height of the Coronavirus outbreak on April 1. The Minnesota Grocers Association raised concerns about the bag fee putting additional unnecessary pressure on grocery store workers who are already under the gun keeping shelves stocked. And city council member Arik Forsman raised questions about the public health implications of more consumers bringing their own potentially...

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Duluth May Bag Plastic Bag Fee with Coronavirus Concerns Over Recycled Sacks

It's not too late for the Duluth City Council to reverse course and rescind the 5 cent plastic bag charge set to take effect, appropriately, on April Fool's Day. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed another case of environmental overreach by elected officials that poses a potential threat to public health by pressing consumers to reuse fabric bags susceptible to spreading the virus. But now councilors are having second thoughts, scrambling to backtrack by delaying the fee for several months, according to the Duluth News Tribune. A proposal to postpone a 5-cent fee on nearly every plastic shopping bag distributed in Duluth has...

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